Charles Barkley opens up about end of friendship with Michael Jordan
Born just three days apart, basketball legends Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan were once the best of friends, but now they haven't spoken in years.
Barkley, who is famous for his opinionated takes, told 60 Minutes correspondent Jon Wertheim that Jordan broke off the friendship over comments Barkley made about the Charlotte Hornets. Jordan is the owner of the NBA team which, at the time, had been struggling to win games.
"And what I said, I think that he don't have enough people around him that are gonna tell him, 'No,'" Barkley said. "And he got really offended, and we haven't spoken."
For Barkley, who makes a living sharing his unvarnished opinions as an analyst on TNT's "Inside the NBA," there's no room for a double standard.
"I'm gonna do my job," he said. "Because I have zero credibility if I criticize other people in the same boat and not criticize my best friend."
Jordan's greatness doesn't give him "the right to be a jerk," Barkley continued.
If their relationship is ever to be mended, Barkley said the ball is in Jordan's court.
"He got my number," Barkley told Wertheim.
Jordan isn't the only one to find himself in Barkley's crosshairs. Sixty nights a year on "Inside the NBA," Barkley offers his take on everything and everyone from the Milwaukee Bucks to LeBron James, and no topic is out of bounds. After Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant was suspended for flashing a gun in an Instagram Live video, Barkley used the opportunity to address gun violence.
Barkley's proclivity for sharing exactly what is on his mind began when he was still a young NBA player. Drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1984, it didn't take long for the kid from Alabama to become as famous for his quotability as for his furious rebounding.
His friends say it's a trait he inherited from his grandmother, who helped raise Barkley alongside his mother.
"He got a mouth like granny," one of his friends agreed during a visit to Barkley's hometown of Leeds, Alabama.
One of Barkley's most infamous moments, though, came not because of a controversial opinion, but on the court. In 1991 while playing with the 76ers in New Jersey, he spat at a heckler and inadvertently hit a young girl. He calls it the low point of his career.
"I got suspended, rightfully so," Barkley said. "I was sittin' in my hotel room, and I was like, 'you are the biggest loser in the world.'"
He described it as a turning point. Barkley said his play had been fueled by anger at his dad, who left the family when Barkley was a year old, and Ms. Gomez, a Spanish teacher who'd flunked him, which prevented him from graduating with the rest of his high school class.
"I am only gonna play basketball 'cause I'm great at it and I love to play," Barkley said he vowed after the incident. "I'm getting all the dirt off my shoulders. Ms. Gomez, bye! Dad, bye!"
Not long after, Barkley was traded to the Phoenix Suns where he was named MVP in 1993.
And months after retiring in 2000, he embarked on a broadcasting career delivering blunt, provocative commentary and earning more than he ever did as a player.
Now 60, Barkley is focused on his own legacy. His daughter Christiana recently had a son, Henry. Barkley said he's never felt joy like this. Every bit the proud grandpa, he broke out a video of Henry laughing to show the 60 Minutes team.
"It is by far and away the greatest thing that's ever happened to me in my life," Barkley said.
The experience of spending time with his grandson lives up to the hype, and Barkley said he's focused on spending as much time as possible with Henry
"Then when he gets older, I want him to Google me. I hope he does some research on me," Barkley said. "I'll be long gone, but I would like him to know that I accomplished some things in my life."
Charles Barkley: The 60 Minutes Interview
The eBay stalking scandal: How a couple became the target of harassment | 60 Minutes
How advancements in prosthetic technology allow feeling, control | 60 Minutes